The so-called Stratiotics and Phibionites : Three notes on the "Gnostics" of Epiphanius, Panarion 26

Journal article


Litwa, M. David. (2022). The so-called Stratiotics and Phibionites : Three notes on the "Gnostics" of Epiphanius, Panarion 26. Vigiliae Christinane. 76(1), pp. 73-93. https://doi.org/10.1163/15700720-bja10036
AuthorsLitwa, M. David
Abstract

The following study of Epiphanius, Panarion 26 is divided into three parts. The first part argues that Epiphanius used a macro heresiological category, “Gnostics,” to combine what were in fact several different social formations in different areas with recognizably different practices. If we pay attention to practices, we can plausibly identify at least two groups in Egypt: the “Stratiotics” (with their distinctive agape ritual) and the “Phibionites” (with their distinctive ascent-descent ritual of 730 sex acts). The second part contends that, since Epiphanius shed light on several different social formations, we cannot assume they were all in one place, namely Alexandria. The third part, finally, offers an “annotated bibliography” of the texts used by “Stratiotics” and “Phibionites,” among others. It argues that the “Stratiotics” in particular used the Greater and Lesser Questions of Mary, which they may have in fact composed. In turn, “Phibionites” used the Birth of Mary and their own Gospel of Philip, though these works probably had a pre-“Phibionite” history. “Stratiotics” may also have modified received works such as Noria. Not all of these books said the same things, supported the same rites, and upheld the same ideology. The literature was diverse, making it difficult to fit “Stratiotic” and “Phibionite” theology neatly into any modern scholarly category (e.g., Sethian, Valentinian, or Ophite).

KeywordsGnostic; Epiphanius; Panarion 26; Phibionite; Stratiotic; Borborite
Year2022
JournalVigiliae Christinane
Journal citation76 (1), pp. 73-93
PublisherE.J. Brill Academic Publishers
ISSN0042-6032
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1163/15700720-bja10036
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85117142649
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range73-93
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All rights reserved
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Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online07 Oct 2021
Publication process dates
Deposited08 Mar 2022
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